Another US Open Cup round, another US Open Cup shock, and one that perhaps came with a little touch of schadenfreude. In the third round of the Cup, Dom Dwyer of USL PRO side Orlando City caught the eye of City's affiliate club, and the team that had loaned Dwyer to Orlando, Sporting Kansas City. It seems Dwyer's scoring and all-round contribution to Orlando's victory over Colorado Rapids raised a few eyebrows at Sporting Park, and owner Robb Heineman was swift to remind Orlando that the spirit of their loan of Dwyer and three other players meant that they should not face a Sporting team anxious to progress in the cup again.
If the defending Open Cup champions thought they had de-clawed Orlando though, with what he described as a "gentleman's agreement", they'd be rudely surprised in the opening minute of their fourth round game, when Long Tan put the visitors in front. And they'd be even more rudely surprised when despite an 18-5 shot count in favor of Sporting, the scoreline held to give Orlando the upset win. "Devastating", as Sporting coach Peter Vermes put it afterwards.
So the holders are out, and with the recent Open Cup dynasty of Seattle out in the third round too, the 100th edition of the tournament is thrown wide open. Seattle were one of four MLS sides to exit in the last round, and coming in to round four we were guaranteed to lose four more at least, with three all-Eastern Conference pairings, and a rivalry game between FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo. That latter game ended with two Kenny Cooper goals and a Zach Loyd chip over the keeper eliminating the Dynamo 3-0, but as for that minimum of four MLS teams being knocked out, make that six, as Orlando were joined in the quarter finals by Carolina Railhawks.
The Railhawks continued their habit of cheerfully abusing west coast dignitaries, when having dumped the Galaxy reserves out in the third round they now beat their hapless room mates Chivas USA 3-1. For a brief moment it looked like the quarter final pairings were going to guarantee a lower league side into the semi-finals, as Charleston raced out into a 2-0 lead against RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium – only to be pegged back with just over 10 minutes to go by a Plata penalty. When the game went to extra time RSL ran away with it and ended up 5-2 winners, but not without a big scare. They'll host the Railhawks in the next round.
There was a dramatic comeback of a different kind at Maryland Soccerplex, where Dwayne De Rosario responded to being benched at the weekend by scoring a wonderful hat trick to eliminate Philadelphia Union: a first time shot from distance, a dribble round the keeper, and a 40-yard moment of inspiration when the forward raced onto a loose touch by Jeff Parke to pass the ball into an empty net with Macmath stranded. The DC fans present in Maryland seemed to enjoy it – and why wouldn't they? DeRo's goals in this game represented a third of all the competitive goals DC have scored this season.
DC won't be hosting their New York rivals in the next round though. The Red Bulls crashed out to a New England team playing their first actual game within Boston proper (at Harvard University no less) and scoring four goals, including two from Kelyn Rowe, en route to a 4-2 victory. Their reward is a trip to DC for the quarter finals.
Portland found themselves the unwilling host for a fairy tale last year, when Eric Wynalda's part-timers Cal FC knocked them out. Under Caleb Porter they've so far been sternly stamping on any romantic notions lesser teams might have. Tampa Bay Rowdies were the latest team to discover the truth about Santa Claus when they were sent packing 2-0. The Timbers play FC Dallas in an anticipated MLS Western Conference clash this weekend – soon they'll be playing in the quarter final of the Open Cup.
The big story of the round though, was Orlando. The non-NYC MLS expansion frontrunners will enjoy a little extra attention from what's now a Cup run. The squeeze of the NYC2 announcement, disappointing State-level funding decisions, and a certain Mr Beckham sniffing round a possible Miami franchise have dented their expansion aspirations a little bit of late, but continuing to embarrass MLS sides on the field certainly does their credibility no harm. They had to wait until Thursday lunchtime to find out whether they'd be facing Chicago or Columbus though (EDIT: Chicago beat Columbus 2-1), but right now they're a team and a city that's used to waiting with their eye on the prize.
DC United 3-1 Philadelphia
Carolina Railhawks 3-1 Chivas USA
New England Revolution 4-2 New York Red Bulls
Sporting KC 0-1 Orlando FC
Chicago Fire 2-1 Columbus Crew
FC Dallas 3-0 Houston Dynamo
Real Salt Lake 5-2 Charleston Battery AET (2-2 FT)
Portland Timbers 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Quarter Finals – June 26
D.C. United vs New England Revolution
Maryland SoccerPlex; Boyds, Md. – 7pm ET
Chicago Fire / Columbus Crew vs Orlando City SC
Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill. – 7.30pm CT
Real Salt Lake vs Carolina Railhawks
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah – 7.30pm MT
FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers
FC Dallas Stadium; Frisco, Texas – 8pm CT